This Map Reveals the Reason These States Are Dangerous for Poor Women

September 14th 2016

Danielle DeCourcey

Restricted access to family planning services will put pregnant women at greater risk of contracting Zika virus, according to an international non-profit focused on reproductive rights.

The Population Institute, which promotes access to family planning services and sex education, found that states that are the most at risk for a Zika virus outbreak also offer some of the poorest access to family planning, abortion, and sex education.

"I think it's really important to note that access to reproductive health care was important before Zika, it's important now, and it will continue to be important," Jennie Wetter, the director of public policy at the Population Institute told ATTN:. "Where you live determines your access to healthcare and that's not acceptable."

This map shows the scary overlap of the Zika virus threat and a lack of access to reproductive healthcare.

Map of at-risk Zika areas and state's with fewer reproductive rights.

The squiggly line shows the range of Aedes Aegypti mosquitoes, which "are more likely to spread viruses like Zika," according to the CDC. The deep red states are the ones which have been given low grades by the Population Institute for providing limited access to reproductive health services.

The report called "Double Trouble" written by Bob Walker, the Population Institute's president, found that unintended pregnancy was also higher in some states threatened by Zika.

Here's the average rate of unintended pregnancy in some Zika-threatened states:

  • Virginia: 51 percent
  • Florida: 58 percent.
  • Georgia: 57 percent.
  • Alabama: 48 percent:
  • Mississippi: 57 percent.
  • Louisiana: 57 percent.
  • Texas: 56 percent.

The overlap Walker discusses is probably most notable in Florida, which has an F rating from the Population Institute, and 614 cases of Zika virus, 86 of which are pregnant women.

Zika virus has been linked to Microcephaly in infants, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as other birth defects.

A baby has microcephaly in Brazil.

For poor women living in Zika-threatened areas, avoiding a pregnancy could be much more difficult. Wetter said that there are three important policy issues restricting poor women's access to reproductive healthcare.

1. Many of these states have a lack of sex education resources.

2. Medicaid, a joint federal and state program to help low-income people with healthcare costs, does not cover all reproductive health issues in every state.

3. Abortion access is limited because of restrictive laws or a limited number of providers in some states.

"Women can be in a position where Medicaid is limited or clinics have been closing in their state, and all of a sudden you have to drive hours to get to a clinic, which wealthy women can do, but poor women can't," said Wetter.

States use waiting periods, mandatory counseling, abortion term restrictions and other methods to try to limit access to abortions.

The Supreme Court decided in June that a Texas law severely regulating abortion clinics was unconstitutional, but the ruling came after a large number of clinics were forced to close in the state. Pregnancy related deaths doubled in Texas after the clinics closed, according to New York Magazine.

Abortion has been one of the most searched political topics in the first two weeks of September, according to Google Trends.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has supported abortion access during her campaign, while Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has said that he wants to ban abortion and strip Planned Parenthood of its federal funding, although a legislative provision known as the Hyde Amendment already blocks federal money to be used for any abortions, with the exception of life saving situations. 

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Wetter said that losing Planned Parenthood would be a blow to poor women across the country.

"If you look at where they are in different states, if you got rid of Planned Parenthood you're talking about a large population of people who wouldn't have access to healthcare," she said.

On Monday, Congress reignited a debate over funding to fight the Zika Virus, as a part of discussions about the coming year's government budget.

RELATED: The Important Reason Two Women Live-Tweeted Their Trip to Get an Abortion